• Gabrielle Woolley

A Brief Adventure into the World of WeChat

WeChat, China’s “super app”, is an app that pretty much does it all. Pretty much might even be an understatement - from messaging to posting photos to making status updates to online shopping to hiring a dog washer, WeChat has a function for it.

In China, more than half the population uses WeChat. The app's seemingly endless array of uses have taken over the Chinese social media landscape. WeChat is a way of life in China. Here's a brief look into how the all-in-one app is evolving not only in China but in relation to American social media.

A One-stop Shop

WeChat is a prime example of how social media is evolving to cover all of users' needs in the least amount of clicks. WeChat began as a simple messaging app, but quickly evolved into what could be considered a hybrid of all of America's most popular social media platforms.

Its the main outlet for communication, social media, business, and digital finances. The WeChat app has created a complex, all compassing ecosystem that almost eliminates the need for users to depend on any other apps.

Marketing on WeChat

With apps becoming increasingly tuned towards digital marketing, its no surprise that an a super app like WeChat has become a main site for online shopping. WeChat has created a huge market that Chinese businesses have to be a part of to stay relevant.

Even luxury brands like Bulgari and Louis Vuitton use WeChat to connect with customers and sell their products. This is kind of like how Facebook started allowing users to sell products on Marketplace, and how Instagram provides direct links from product photos to websites. All practices combine social media and retail, making it easier for businesses to use social media for marketing purposes.

Brands that want to expand internationally should definitely explore the wondrous world of WeChat since for most markets, the platform is a way of life.

WeChat's own Influencer Culture

Similarly to influencer culture on Instagram, WeChat bloggers are a huge source of advertising for certain businesses. However, because of how widespread and universal WeChat's use is in China, influencers have even more power in the business world.

WeChat influencers have even taken stake in some American markets. In New York, Mandarin-speaking social media influencers who post Chinese restaurant reviews on WeChat play a determining role in the city's food scene. This is an interesting instance of an app platform evolving in a new environment - a cool demonstration of the adaptive ways of social media.

Mirroring Trends

Not only are there similar social media phenomena among these platforms, but certain American social media platforms and WeChat are actually mirroring each other more directly.

Some of Facebook's recent updates were undeniably reminiscent of WeChat features, including a new messaging feature and digital currency that work very similarly to those of WeChat's e-commerce function. In a 2019 update, WeChat added a new "Moments" feature to chronicle photos and memories, which functions exactly like Snapchat stories. Snapchat channelled some inspiration from the popular Chinese app's social gaming when it launched a new game feature.

WeChat thrives in a media and landscape entirely different than that of America, yet some of the app's phenomena and patterns are similar to trends seen on America's big social media platforms. Apps from around the world are shaping each others' media landscapes.

For now, it it doesn’t look like there are any all-encompassing, super-apps on the rise in America. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still dominate the American social media landscape and stick to their respective social media purposes. While these apps are evolving and even adopting ideas from each other, none of them are on track to be as multi-functional as WeChat.

As apps have to compete more for their users' attention, it's worth paying attention to how they're evolving to become more and more dynamic.

It's interesting to consider whether or not big social platforms like Facebook actually want to become like WeChat, and what that would mean for American social media. Ultimately, apps from around the world are undeniably shaping each others and creating similar phenomena across widely different media landscapes. Its a lot to keep up with, but important for understanding the ever changing nature of the digital world.

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© 2019 by Bantam Social Media

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